The 2012 NFL Draft is expected to be one of the best since the beginning of the 21st century. Players such as Andrew Luck, Matt Kalil, Morris Claiborne, Trent Richardson and Robert Griffin III will be among the first players selected, all of whom are expected to go on to have long, Pro Bowl-filled careers.
However, there will be players that will turn out to be busts or have average careers. As writers, we misjudge players and think that every single one of them will go on to have solid careers in the NFL.
Unfortunately, that is not the case, as some players just turn out to be mediocre. For instance, people once thought that Ryan Leaf would be the next Dan Marino, and we all know how that turned out. Not to mention, JaMarcus Russell was thought to become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and look at him now. Tony Mandarich and Brian Bosworth were great players in college, and many scouts and writers thought that they would end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It happened to be just the opposite.
There are a number of things that make a player who they are: the coaching staff, the system they play in and of course, their attributes. Some players either just don't have it or have poor luck.
In this slideshow, I will compare first-round prospects to current NFL players, and yes, there will be some players that may end up having paltry professional careers.
Career Stats: 713-for-1,064, 9,430 passing yards, 82 touchdowns, 22 interceptions
NFL Comparison: Peyton Manning, Indianapolis
Did you honestly expect anyone different? Luck has been noted to be the best NFL prospect since Peyton Manning.
The former Stanford phenom is undoubtedly the most NFL-ready player in the 2012 draft and is expected to make an immediate impact for the Colts, who hold the No. 1 pick in April's draft. Of course, that is, if the Colts do not retain Manning and release him before March 1, when he earns an astounding $28 million.
Luck is expected to have a similar, if not better career than Manning, and if everything goes right, we should see Luck's name continuously in the Pro Bowl and most likely in the postseason, fighting for a Super Bowl trophy.
Nearly every NFL analyst has said that Luck will have a great professional career, and personally, I haven't heard one of them say that Luck will turn out to be the next Ryan Leaf.
There is a very solid chance that Luck will become the next Peyton Manning.
Career Stats: 252 receptions, 3,564 yards, 40 touchdowns
NFL Comparison: Roddy White, Atlanta
Blackmon is by far the best wide receiver prospect in the draft, ahead of players such as Notre Dame's Michael Floyd, South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery and Baylor's Kendall Wright.
The receiver had a stellar career at Oklahoma State, racking up over 3,500 receiving yards and 40 touchdowns in just three seasons. Some analysts seem to think that he will be a solid NFL receiver, and some believe that he will be the next R. Jay Soward or Rashaun Woods.
Personally, I believe that Blackmon will go on to have a good career at the professional level. He may not be like Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald, but he'll eventually work his way into the top-10 category of the best receivers in the NFL.
Some of you may believe why I'm comparing him to the Falcons' Roddy White. Both players are undersized—White at 6'0" and Blackmon at 6'1". However, despite their smaller stature, both are reception machines, as Blackmon averaged 84 receptions per season in Stillwater.
White has caught at least 80 passes the last five seasons, including going over the 100-reception plateau the last two seasons. His 115 receptions in 2010 were the most in the NFL.
Lately, Blackmon has been projected to go to the Rams with the second-overall pick and would immediately become the team's No. 1 starter. His addition to the Rams would definitely help third-year quarterback Sam Bradford, as he just suffered through a sophomore slump.
Blackmon will go on to have a solid NFL career. Just wait and see.
Career Stats: 540 carries, 3,130 yards, 35 touchdowns; 68 receptions, 730 yards, seven touchdowns
NFL Comparison: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia
Richardson is undoubtedly the best running back prospect in this year's draft. He had a solid career in Tuscaloosa, as he was a key part in helping the Tide win two championships in three years.
The running back spent his first two collegiate seasons backing up Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, who was drafted in the first round by the New Orleans Saints last year. But there is a good chance that Richardson will have a much better NFL career than Ingram, and I believe it will happen also.
Richardson placed third in Heisman voting this year behind Luck and winner Robert Griffin III, as the back carried the ball 283 times for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns, an Alabama rushing record.
As of right now, I'm comparing Richardson to the Eagles' LeSean McCoy, who was also a touchdown machine last season, as he ran for 1,309 yards and 17 touchdowns. Although McCoy is a better receiver than Richardson, I believe that the latter will be a better runner in the NFL.
He has all the potential in the world, and I believe we will eventually see him in the upper echelon of running backs that consists of McCoy, Arian Foster, Michael Turner, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew and select others.
Career Stats: Unavailable
NFL Comparison: Jordan Gross, Carolina
The 2012 NFL Draft seems to be very good this year, as there could be three tackles taken within the first 12 picks. The prospects include Kalil, Iowa's Riley Reiff and Stanford's Jonathan Martin.
Kalil is set for a long career in the NFL and will likely be an anchor for an offensive line for many years to come. He has been projected to be a top-five pick since the start of the 2011 NCAA season and is slated to go No. 2 overall to St. Louis or No. 3 to Minnesota. Both teams are in dire need of a tackle, and Kalil would definitely fill that void.
Jordan Gross, currently of the Carolina Panthers, is undoubtedly the best offensive lineman for his respective team, and the competition really isn't close. Kalil will likely do the same thing wherever he ends up as well.
He may not be like Joe Thomas of the Browns or Jake Long of the Dolphins, but he will be pretty close. He definitely has the potential of becoming a top-five offensive tackle in the NFL once he reaches his ceiling.
Career Stats: 95 total tackles, two sacks, 11 interceptions (one TD), 23 passes defensed
NFL Comparison: Champ Bailey, Denver
I may be reaching on this one, but just hear me out: Claiborne is one of the best cornerback prospects to come into the NFL in the last 15 years or so. He's athletic, strong, fast and a ballhawk, all attributes Champ Bailey has been familiar with since arriving in the NFL in 1998.
Some people may argue, but I believe Claiborne was the best player on LSU's defense, and may I remind you, that defense was pretty good. It had a few prospects on that squad that include Michael Brockers, Brandon Taylor, Tyrann Mathieu, Barkevious Mingo and others.
Needless to say, he's a great player. And I believe he'll be in the NFL for at least 12 years if he can manage to stay healthy throughout his professional career.
Claiborne is a complete ballhawk, as I've mentioned before. He's registered 11 interceptions over the last two seasons, including one that was returned for a touchdown. We will definitely see Claiborne's name among the top of the interception-leading category when he fully develops.
He may not be a shutdown corner like Darrell Revis of the Jets or Nnamdi Asomugha of the Eagles, but he's pretty close to it. I can forsee him becoming one of the top-10 cornerbacks in the NFL when he reaches his full potential.
Career Stats: 800-for-1,192, 10,366 passing yards, 78 touchdowns, 17 interceptions; 528 carries, 2,257 rushing yards, 33 rushing touchdowns
NFL Comparison: A more accurate and smarter Michael Vick
There is really no other comparison for Griffin other than Michael Vick. Vick seems to be the only quarterback in the NFL that is an electric runner and a decent passer (and I know some of y'all are thinking Tim Tebow. No, look at his completion percentage,). However, Griffin III is by far more accurate than Vick and has better decision-making skills.
The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner, Griffin III rose up the draft boards quickly after multiple fantastic performances during the collegiate season. He was undoubtedly great and worthy of the Heisman.
He was also one of the most accurate passers in the NCAA last season, as he completed 72.4 percent of his passes last season, amongst the top in that category.
Like Vick, Griffin III is a dual threat, and the former Baylor quarterback may even be a better runner than Vick. Last season, Griffin III ran for 699 yards and 10 touchdowns, something most quarterbacks cannot do.
He is perhaps one of the most intriguing prospects in this April's draft, as he can either be a great player or a gigantic bust. I don't think he'll be a bust, but he'll be a serviceable quarterback in the NFL that could warrant multiple Pro Bowl selections over his professional career.
Career Stats: Unavailable
NFL Comparison: Michael Roos, Tennessee
It is almost certain that Reiff will be a top-15 pick and could land in such places as Miami, Kansas City or Buffalo.
Reiff is perhaps the second-best tackle prospect in the draft, only behind the aforementioned Matt Kalil, who is projected to be one of the best players in April's draft.
Reiff is likely to be a starter from day one, depending on which team takes him. As we've seen lately, there have been a number of tackle prospects that have started immediately and have gone on to have solid NFL careers: Cleveland's Joe Thomas, Miami's Jake Long and Denver's Ryan Clady.
The former Iowa tackle will likely have a long and prosperous NFL career.
Career Stats: 141 total tackles, 36.5 tackles for loss, 17.5 sacks, one interception (TD), five passes defensed, six forced fumbles, one fumble recovery (TD)
NFL Comparison: Tamba Hali, Kansas City
Upshaw has slowly risen up the draft boards over the past few months, as he now seems to be the top outside linebacker in the entire draft. As y'all can tell by his career statistics in Tuscaloosa, Upshaw was great on the defensive side of the ball.
Currently, I have Upshaw going 10th overall to Buffalo, as he fits their defensive scheme. The linebacker will likely be selected by a team that runs the 3-4 defense instead of the 4-3.
As I stated before, Upshaw was a beast at Alabama, just like Hali was at Penn State, which warranted him a first-round selection.
Since arriving in the NFL in 2006, Hali has had just one season where he registered less than 7.5 sacks. He has also gone over double-digit sacks the last two seasons—14.5 in 2010 and 12 in 2011.
I believe that Upshaw is similar to Hali because of their instincts to get to the quarterback. Both are sack machines and both are very good when it comes to forcing the ball out of opposing player's hands, especially Hali, who has registered 22 forced fumbles over his NFL career.
Upshaw will go on to have a solid NFL career; just wait and see.
Career Stats: 484-for-774, 5,450 passing yards, 42 touchdowns, 21 interceptions
NFL Comparison: David Carr, N.Y. Giants
Second Thought: Christian Ponder, Minnesota
Ah, the first player in this list that may not have a good NFL career. Personally, I don't think Tannehill is a great quarterback, and he definitely doesn't deserve a first-round selection. Some team will likely suffer from Christian Ponder Syndrome, as Tannehill will go way higher than he was thought, just like Ponder last April.
Tannehill was a mediocre quarterback at Texas A&M, and I believe that he will be mediocre in the NFL as well. Unfortunately, I'm comparing him to David Carr, although it was two different paths; Carr was the No. 1 pick in 2002, while Tannehill could be chosen in the early to mid-first round.
Tannehill could possibly go as early as the No. 4 selection to as late as the No. 22 selection. Such scenarios have stated that a team such as Washington or Cleveland will try to trade up to the No. 2 slot to take Baylor's Robert Griffin III. If that were to happen, Tannehill could possibly go to the team that doesn't get the No. 2 slot, or he could go to a team such as Miami, Seattle or Cleveland at their No. 22 selection that they acquired last April for the draft rights to Alabama receiver Julio Jones.
I just don't think that the receiver-turned-quarterback will become a franchise quarterback that certain teams are hoping for. Personally, I believe that Arizona's Nick Foles and Michigan State's Kirk Cousins are better prospects than Tannehill.
We'll see what happens.
Career Stats: 144 total tackles, 40.5 tackles for loss, 24 sacks, five forced fumbles
NFL Comparison: Lawrence Jackson, Detroit
Coples will become the second mediocre player on my list of first-round prospects.
Don't get me wrong, I think he was a great collegiate player, but I just don't believe he will have a solid NFL career. He's got all the talent in the world of becoming a great professional player, but he won't become that player.
As of right now, I'm comparing him to Lawrence Jackson, who is currently a defensive end for the Detroit Lions. He was drafted with the No. 28 selection by the Seattle Seahawks. Jackson, along with Vernon Gholston, Derrick Harvey and Phillip Merling, were among the defensive ends chosen within the top-32 selections in the 2008 draft that have gone on to have rather sub-par careers.
Of those four players, Jackson has possibly had the best career thus far, registering 121 total tackles, 17 sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in his four-year career.
I believe that Coples will have a similar career to that of Jackson. I don't think he'll ever be a perennial Pro Bowl selection, but he may sneak in there once or twice if he's lucky.
He may not be a "bust," but he'll be a serviceable player in the NFL. I don't believe that he'll have a long professional career, as he could be out of the NFL in eight or less years.
Career Stats: Unavailable
NFL Comparison: Jake Long, Miami
This may sound silly, but I believe Jonathan Martin will be the best offensive tackle of the 2012 NFL Draft—yes, even better than USC's Matt Kalil and Iowa's Riley Reiff.
He will likely be the third tackle taken off the board, only behind the two players that I listed previously. Martin may not be a top-10 selection like the first two, but I can see him being selected with the No. 11 pick by Seattle or at No. 13 by Arizona, who is in desperate need of offensive line help.
At Stanford, Martin was part of a sensational offensive line that also included probable first-round prospect David DeCastro. Not to mention he blocked for the best quarterback in college football and the likely No. 1 overall selection Andrew Luck. Needless to say, you had to be pretty good to be on the Stanford line, and Martin was arguably the best one of the bunch.
Standing at 6'6", Martin is a hard player to get around. He also weighs an astounding 304 pounds, which makes it even more difficult for defensive players to get around.
Like Long, I believe we will see Martin's name annually come up on Pro Bowl rosters, and he will also have a lengthy NFL career.
Career Stats: 79 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles, one interception
NFL Comparison: Jay Ratliff, Dallas
It came as quite a surprise when LSU's Michael Brockers announced he was entering the NFL Draft, as many thought he would return to the bayou for the 2012 collegiate season.
I believe Brockers is one of the most intriguing prospects in April's draft, as he is a brute force.
Standing at 6'6", he will immediately become one of the tallest defensive tackles at the professional level. In my opinion, he is definitely a better prospect than Penn State's Devon Still, Michigan State's Jerel Worthy and Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox.
He may not become the next Ndamukong Suh or Richard Seymour, but he will be among the top in the second tier with Dallas' Jay Ratliff, Buffalo's Kyle Williams and Miami's Paul Soliai.
Brockers is phenomenal in stopping the run and hurrying the quarterback. There are really no flaws in his game, and he proved that over his two seasons at LSU.
Currently, I have him going ninth overall to the Panthers, and the team will definitely be lucky to have him.
Career Stats: 532 total tackles, 35.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, seven interceptions (two TD's), 17 passes defensed, two forced fumbles
NFL Comparison: Chad Greenway, Minnesota
As mant of you know, Kuechly was a tackle machine at Boston College, racking up 158, 183 and 191 total tackles in his three years, respectively. He was arguably the best inside linebacker over that span as well.
There should be no doubt that he is the top inside linebacker in April's draft, even ahead of Alabama's Dont'a Hightower and Arizona State's Vontaze Burfict.
Over his collegiate career, Kuechly won many awards, including the 2011 Butkus Award, which is given to the nation's top linebacker. He also earned the 2011 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, along with the 2011 Lombardi Award. Also, Kuechly was the 2011 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, along with being elected as an All-American in all three years.
To sum it all up, he's a great player even though some people believe that players on Boston College's defense practically gave him room and space to make tackles instead of them. However, I really don't believe that, simply because he is a great and instinctive inside linebacker.
As of right now, I'm comparing him to Minnesota's most valuable player on defense, Chad Greenway. Like Kuechly, Greenway is a tackle machine even though he doesn't get the respect he deserves.
I believe Kuechly will go on to have a long and stat sheet-filled career at the NFL level. Currently, I have him being tabbed with the 14th-overall selection by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Career Stats: 91 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, three interceptions, 19 passes defensed, three forced fumbles
NFL Comparison: Sean Smith, Miami
Kirkpatrick's draft has possibly significantly dropped after his arrest for pot possession, but he is still a first-round talent and will likely be chosen somewhere in the mid-first round.
At one point, he was projected to go in the top-10 and be the second cornerback off the board behind LSU's Morris Claiborne. Now, it looks like he could be the third or fourth cornerback taken behind Claiborne and possibly North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins and Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard.
There is no doubt that Kirkpatrick was a good collegiate player and one of the best cornerbacks in April's draft, but will he be a great player in the NFL? I don't know about that, but I think he'll be a decent player.
I don't believe he'll be a team's No. 1 cornerback, but he'll be a valuable No. 2 option, like Smith of the Dolphins.
Once Kirkpatrick's name is called, he will immediately become one of the tallest cornerbacks in the NFL, along with Smith and the Jets' Antonio Cromartie. A major part of the Tide's most recent championship, Kirkpatrick stands at 6'3" and was one of the NCAA's best shutdown cornerbacks.
What makes him so valuable is his height because he will be taller than some of the receivers he will be covering. Quarterbacks will not be able to just lob it up because Kirkpatrick will be more liable to catch it than the receiver. And surprisingly, he is very fast, so receivers won't be able to just blow past him like some cornerbacks in the NFL.
He's a very intriguing prospect, and I can see him making a Pro Bowl or two, but he won't be like Darrelle Revis or Nnamdi Asomugha, meaning he won't continuously be named to the Pro Bowl. But he'll have a decent career if he can stay out of trouble.
Career Stats: 271 receptions, 3,686 yards, 37 receiving touchdowns
NFL Comparison: A taller, less primadonna Santonio Holmes, N.Y. Jets
Second Option: Chad Ochocinco, New England
Floyd is argaubly the second-best receiver in the draft, only behind Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon. In some mock drafts, South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery is selected higher than Floyd, but we'll see.
The former Irish receiver is also one of the tallest receivers in the draft, as he stands at 6'3". He's a quality receiver, but I can't really see him becoming a quality, true No. 1 receiver, much like the Jets' Holmes.
As we all know, Holmes is a primadonna, as he causes arguments in the locker room, doesn't fully give his best when he's on the field and so on and so forth. I don't believe Floyd will be like that at all, but his game seems to be similar to that of Holmes.
Although, Floyd seemed to do a lot with little during his time at Notre Dame, as the Irish's quarterback play was mediocre at best. During his time there, Floyd saw numerous quarterbacks, such as Jimmy Clausen, Tommy Rees and Dayne Crist. He never had a steady quarterback throwing to him, but he somehow managed to catch 37 touchdowns in his four seasons.
I think he'll become a good receiver in the NFL, but I can't see him becoming a receptions leader, receiving yards leader or being selected to the Pro Bowl year after year.
Career Stats: Unavailable
NFL Comparison: Kris Dielman, San Diego
I think there's a strong possibility that DeCastro could become the best offensive lineman prospect in the entire draft, even better than Matt Kalil, Riley Reiff, Cordy Glenn and former Stanford teammate Jonathan Martin. He is undoubtedly the best guard in the draft and will likely warrant a top-15 selection.
DeCastro really has no flaws to his game, as he is an exceptional run-blocker and is extraordinary in pass protection. He has a good amount of speed for a player of his size and is not afraid to protect his running back down-field.
I really like DeCastro as a prospect, and I think he'll become one of the premier interior linemen in the NFL.
There is no doubt in my mind that he will be selected to many Pro Bowls like Kris Dielman, who has been selected to four Pro Bowls over his career.
Career Stats: 82 total tackles, 18 sacks, two forced fumbles
NFL Comparison: Larry English, San Diego
Here's another player on this list that I don't think will have a solid NFL career. Mercilus was a dominant player last season in his first year as a starter, recording 16 sacks. However, during his first two years, he only registered one sack in both seasons.
It looks as though he was just a one-year wonder, even though he got quality playing time in that one season. I just don't think he'll be the premier pass-rusher that everyone is thinking he'll become.
I'm comparing him to current Chargers outside linebacker Larry English because I think Mercilus will primarily be used as an outside linebacker instead of a defensive end. Additionally, English had a great career at Northern Illinois, as he registered 12, 10.5 and eight sacks in a three-season span, respectively.
But since being tabbed with the No. 16 overall selection in 2009, he has had a rather subpar career with the Chargers. Over his three-year career, he has tallied just 53 tackles and seven sacks, meaning he hasn't become the premier pass-rusher that general manager A.J. Smith was hoping for.
I believe that English and Mercilus share the same tools and both of their collegiate games were very similar.
I just can't see Mercilus developing into a great pass-rusher like Clay Matthews, Terrell Suggs and others.
Career Stats: 183 receptions, 3,042 yards, 23 receiving touchdowns
NFL Comparison: Stevie Johnson, Buffalo
Jeffery was a highly-decorated receiver at South Carolina and will likely warrant a first-round selection. He will probably be the third receiver off the board behind Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd, but will likely be selected before Baylor's Kendall Wright.
At one point, Jeffery was projected to be a top-10 selection, but his draft stock has significantly dropped since his altercation with Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard in the Gamecocks' 30-13 win at the Capital One Bowl.
I'm comparing Jeffery to Buffalo receiver Stevie Johnson, as they are both tall receivers and occasionally make big plays.
However, their demeanors are virtually the same, as both like to showboat and make questionable decisions on the field (i.e. Jeffery's fight with Dennard, Johnson benched for excessive celebration after scoring touchdown against New England, etc.)
I believe that Jeffery will become a solid receiver in the NFL, but I can't really see him becoming a No. 1 receiver unless it's a team like the Jaguars, Browns, Rams, etc.—meaning that he's on a team that doesn't have a true main receiver or being on a team that simply has a horrible receiving corps.
But I can see him flourishing as a team's No. 2 option. As of right now, I have him going to the Texans with the No. 26 selection while becoming the perfect complement to Andre Johnson, one of the best receivers in the league.
Career Stats: 106 total tackles, 10.5 sacks
NFL Comparison: Jason Jones, Tennessee
Still is projected to be a first-round prospect, but I can't see him becoming a true star at the professional level.
I'm not saying he's going to be a bust or a great player, but I can see him becoming a decent player like the Titans' Jason Jones. I don't think he'll ever be a Pro Bowl-caliber player, either.
Standing at 6'5", Still is a force to block, not to mention, he also weighs 310 pounds. However, there are a few flaws to his game, and a lot of people see him just as an interior run-stopper only.
Still tore his ACL during his freshman campaign, which could be quite a concern for teams that are looking at him in the middle of the first round. His durability could eventually become a problem.
The former Nittany Lion is very good against the run, but his pass-rushing needs a great amount of help. His game will definitely need some time before he can become a three-down defensive tackle.
Although, he has a big-bodied frame and could potentially become a solid player in the NFL.
Career Stats: Unavailable
NFL Comparison: Jeff Saturday, Indianapolis
Konz is undoubtedly the best center in the 2012 draft, and he will likely be selected in the later part of the first round. Currently, I have him going No. 23 overall to the Detroit Lions in hopes of replacing Dominic Raiola.
He could become a great player in the NFL, possibly a franchise center who, like Saturday, could be with a team for over a decade.
Konz is a very good player who is a solid run-blocker and pass-protector. He's also very smart and would immediately become one of the smartest interior linemen in the NFL.
Career Stats: 105 total tackles, 22.5 sacks, two forced fumbles
NFL Comparison: Aaron Curry, Oakland
Like a few other players, it came as quite a surprise when USC's Nick Perry announced that he was entering April's draft. According to mock drafts, Perry has been projected to go as high as the No. 10 selection to Buffalo to as late as the No. 29 selection to Baltimore.
At USC, Perry played both defensive end and linebacker, but it's likely that he will play the latter at the professional level.
I think Perry will be a decent defensive player, but I can't really see him becoming the great player that people are anticipating. He reminds me a lot of Aaron Curry, who played collegiately at Wake Forest and was drafted with the No. 4 selection by Seattle in the 2009 NFL Draft.
The former Trojan seems to be a very effective blitzer, but doesn't seem to fare that well in coverage, much like Curry.
However, Perry has great athleticism and quickness off the edge, which definitely works to his advantage. He's a very aggressive pass-rusher that has a nice amount of moves to get past offensive linemen.
Even though he's been a solid player in college, I just can't see him becoming a great player. He may be good in a few years, but I don't believe he'll be great once he immediately hits the field. It'll definitely take time for him to become the player that coaching staffs are hoping for.
Career Stats: 302 receptions, 4,004 receiving yards, 30 receiving touchdowns; 75 carries, 425 rushing yards, two touchdowns; 4-for-12, 114 passing yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions
NFL Comparison: Percy Harvin, Minnesota
As you can tell by the stats above, Wright is a triple threat. Naturally, he's a wide receiver and can make big plays downfield, and not to mention, he can line up at running back and can also run some trick plays and be able to throw the ball down the field.
Needless to say, his game is much like that of Percy Harvin's. Harvin is also a threat, whether it be through receiving or rushing or other parts of the game.
However, Harvin is currently the No. 1 receiver for Minnesota, and as we've seen lately, he really isn't a main guy. The former Gator would probably be a better player if he were used as a No. 2 option or in the slot, much like Wright.
I don't believe that Wright will ever be a No. 1 option, but he could flourish as a team's second option or as the slot receiver.
Wright has many positives to his game, as he has legitimate quickness and speed, a great set of hands and quality athleticism. However, Wright has a couple flaws in his game, as he needs to learn to run routes better and get off the line more quickly, especially in press coverage.
But, Wright definitely has more positives than negatives, and he will become a valuable asset to a team that likes to utilize their slot receiver down the field—that's where Wright is more likely to flourish.
Career Stats: Unavailable
NFL Comparison: Brandon Moore, N.Y. Jets
Glenn is projected to be the second offensive guard taken off the board behind Stanford's David DeCastro. He was also arguably the best lineman on the Georgia squad, which was among the best in NCAA football. Glenn helped the Bulldogs rank among the top in the SEC in major categories, such as passing, rushing and total offense.
The former Bulldog started 10 games as a freshman and then played right guard, left tackle and left guard as a sophomore. Since then, he started every single game at the left guard position, and that is what he'll likely play in the NFL.
He has amazing size, as he stands at 6'5" and weighs 348 pounds. Needless to say, he was one of the toughest guards to get around.
Glenn has good burst off the ball and can get in front of the running back relatively fast. He has been clocked as high as 5.12 in the 40-yard dash.
He reminds me a lot of the Jets' Brandon Moore, and it appears he will definitely be a force in the interior of the offensive line.
Career Stats: 233 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions
NFL Comparison: Karlos Dansby, Miami
Hightower will go down as one of the best linebackers in Alabama history, but will he be as good in the NFL? I don't think he'll be one of the best ever, but he'll be a great linebacker in the NFL, and I can see him going to a few Pro Bowls in his career.
Like Dansby, he's a pure tackler and was arguably one of the best tacklers in college football over the last four seasons. They're both very physical and aren't afraid to make tackles when it needs to happen. Hightower and Dansby are also athletic for players of their size and are thought to be playmakers at their respective positions.
Hightower has great size and speed for a player of his stature, as he stands at 6'4" and weighs 260 pounds. He practically looks like a defensive end that plays linebacker, and that helps his case, especially with his 4.67 time in the 40-yard dash. The former Tide linebacker will likely improve on that at the combine if he is 100 percent.
One thing that hurts Hightower is his injury history. He tore his ACL in his left knee during his sophomore season and got a medical redshirt. He will need to stay healthy in the NFL if he wants to have a solid career.
But I believe he will be able to keep his injuries under control and go on to have a prosperous NFL career.
Career Stats: 93 total tackles, one forced fumble, four interceptions (one touchdown)
NFL Comparison: Brandon Flowers, Kansas City
Dennard is just one of a few cornerbacks to be projected in the first round, along with LSU's Morris Claiborne, Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick and North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins.
Dennard, along with Prince Amukamara, formed one of the best cornerback duos in college football two seasons ago. Now that Amukamara is in the pros with the Giants, Dennard became the main man for the Cornhuskers and played extremely well, barring his on-the-field incident with South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery in the Capital One Bowl.
Although he didn't register any sacks or interceptions last season, he was still a great player for the Cornhuskers. Many would argue that he didn't pick off any passes because opposing quarterbacks were afraid to throw the ball to his side—and that may be the case.
He has been considered to be a shutdown corner, but I don't think he'll be like that in the NFL. There is no doubt in my mind that he'll be a good cornerback in the NFL, but he won't be among the top tier. He'll most likely be in the second tier with players like Brandon Flowers, who currently plays for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Dennard will likely warrant a top-20 selection and could be chosen by the Bears, Titans or Bengals.
Career Stats: 335 carries, 1,918 rushing yards, 15 touchdowns; 28 receptions, 181 receiving yards, one touchdown
NFL Comparison: A faster Pierre Thomas, New Orleans
It was a surprise when Miller announced he was entering April's draft, as the running back is just a sophomore. There is likely no doubt that if he stayed for another season or two, he would definitely be a first-round selection. But lately, he has been tabbed as an early second-round selection and could eventually work his way back into the first-round.
There is no question that Miller is a talented running back, but I don't see him ever becoming a team's featured back. He will likely be used in a two-back set, such as the New York Giants, New Orleans, Carolina's, Houston's and so on.
He saw a decent amount of playing time as a freshman, but was listed a full-time starter as a sophomore in which he rushed for 1,272 yards and nine touchdowns for a rather mediocre Hurricanes squad.
Miller's best attribute is likely his speed, in which the back has an average 4.40 time in the 40-yard dash and has gotten as high as 4.32. He is also very hard to tackle and rarely goes down when he is initially touched by an opposing defensive player.
If he wants to become a better running back, he needs to improve his receiving skills, along with his blocking techniques.
He'll be a decent player if he is in the right system.
Career Stats: 107 total tackles, 11.5 sacks
NFL Comparison: Jimmy Kennedy, N.Y. Giants
Many people are projecting Worthy to become one of the best defensive tackles in the game, but I just don't see it. I don't think he'll become the great player people are anticipating, and he will fall into mediocrity like other former high-profile defensive tackles of the 2000s—Kennedy, William Joseph, Johnathan Sullivan, John McCargo, Travis Johnson, Ryan Sims, Wendell Bryant, I think y'all got the point.
He may have been a good defensive tackle in college, but I don't think he'll be able to duplicate his performances in the NFL.
I watched a few Michigan State games last season, and he just seemed like a guy who couldn't get in the backfield, couldn't make any impact plays whatsoever, couldn't penetrate, couldn't get to the quarterback, etc. I realize that some of those things may not be what a defensive tackle is supposed to do, but some occasionally do those things.
I envision him being like Jimmy Kennedy, a former first-round selection of the St. Louis Rams. Kennedy really couldn't do that much except take up space, and he didn't flourish when he would start. He would become a decent back-up, which is evident by him still being on a roster, even though he's played for the Rams, Bears, Jaguars, Vikings and Giants since coming to the NFL in 2003.
I believe Worthy will have a similar career, but maybe he'll play for less teams.
Career Stats: 229 total tackles, seven sacks, three forced fumbles, one interception
NFL Comparison: Kevin Burnett, Miami
I'm just not sold on Vontaze Burfict, the former Arizona State linebacker. Even though he's considered to be one of the best inside linebackers in the entire draft, I just don't know if he'll have a career that was worth a first-round selection.
He seems to have numerous flaws to his game and not to mention, his demeanor isn't that good either. There is no doubt that he will have to be level-headed when he is on the field.
Yes, he had a solid collegiate career, but just because he was a good player in college doesn't mean he'll be the same way in the pros.
Burfict will definitely need help from coaches at the professional level, especially when it has to do with Burfict's technique. It's too raw for the NFL and will likely need some time to develop.
He reminds me of Kevin Burnett, current middle linebacker for the Miami Dolphins -- which means I think Burfict will be average. He won't be a great player at the professional level, but he'll be decent. I think he will be a full-fledged starter on a team, but he wouldn't be considered a starter on every single team in the NFL. If he were on a team with great linebackers, I just don't think he'd be good enough to start.
We'll see what happens.
Career Stats: 106 total tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, eight interceptions (one touchdown) (before his transfer to North Alabama)
NFL Comparison: Terrell Thomas, N.Y. Giants
Demeanor Comparison: Adam "Pacman" Jones, Cincinnati
Jenkins was once projected to be one of the best cornerbacks to come out of college in a number of years, but teams have grown wary of drafting him because of his off-the-field issues.
As a Florida Gator, Jenkins was arrested near a bar for fighting and resisting arrest after punching a man in the head in June 2009. In April 2011, Jenkins was arrested once again for marijuana possession; he was cited for the same violation just three months earlier.
This led to his dismissal from the Gators, and he would eventually transfer to North Alabama for his senior season.
He is still projected to be a first-round selection, but teams have to be careful, as he appears to have a problem with his demeanor, much like Pacman Jones.
Nonetheless, he is still a very good football player with great speed and above-average quickness. Jenkins excels most as a cover corner as well.
Although he is just 5'10" and weighs a little over 180 pounds, he doesn't play like it, and instead, plays like he's the tallest and most athletic cornerback in the NCAA. He has a great first step and rarely gets bypassed by opposing wide receivers.
He's an intriguing prospect and could be a great player in the NFL, but he just needs to keep his legal troubles and dumb decisions intact.
Career Stats: 229 total tackles, four sacks, 12 interceptions, two forced fumbles
NFL Comparison: LaRon Landry, Washington
Barron is the top safety in the entire draft and is projected to be the only player of that position to be taken in the first round of April's draft.
A three-year starter at Alabama, Barron was lights out, especially in 2009, when he recorded 74 total tackles and seven interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Tthe interception total was an SEC-leading number, and he was also selected as a First Team All-SEC player. Barron was also a catalyst for Alabama in 2009, as he and the Tide won the BCS National Championship.
Barron has decent speed, as he usually registers somewhere around 4.50 in the 40-yard dash, going as high as 4.47.
His best attribute is perhaps his ability of stepping into the box and playing against the run, especially behind the line of scrimmage. Barron has also been considered to be one of the hardest hitters in NCAA football and is a sure tackler as well.
Barron is also a good pass-defender, which will definitely come in handy in the NFL.
Barron will become a star at the professional level, and I can see him being selected to many Pro Bowls. I can also see him becoming one of the best strong safeties in the NFL after a few seasons.
Career Stats: 105 total tackles, 21 sacks, two interceptions
NFL Comparison: Trent Cole, Philadelphia
One of the most intriguing prospects in this year's draft, I believe Ingram could become one of the best players in this draft. Seven years from now, we'll look back on this draft and see that Ingram had a great career (and would still have a few more years left in the tank).
Ingram will likely be used as a defensive end rather than an outside linebacker in when he is taken in April.
He is already a great pass-rusher, as he registered 10 and nine sacks over the last two seasons, respectively. As a junior, he started just one game, but still managed to lead the Gamecocks in sacks with nine.
Ingram had several amazing plays in 2011, and I believe he'll have just as many during his rookie season.
As seen above, he reminds me a lot of Trent Cole of the Eagles, but he can also be compared to Indianapolis' Dwight Freeney. He'll definitely have an NFL career like one of those players.
Ingram weighs in at 276 pounds, and you wouldn't think he'd be genuinely fast. Surprisingly, he is, as he runs around a 4.80 in the 40-yard dash and has been clocked as high as 4.72. However, he definitely looks a lot faster during games, and offensive linemen think the same way.
The former Gamecock has a quick first step, much like Cole and Freeney, and can get to the quarterback fast. He'll likely become a sack machine in the NFL, and I wouldn't doubt seeing his name on a few Pro Bowl rosters over his career.
Career Stats: 210 receptions, 2,263 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns
NFL Comparison: A slightly taller Pierre Garcon, Indianapolis
Sanu had rather pedestrian numbers in college when compared to those of Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles, Notre Dame's Michael Floyd, etc.
The former Rutgers receiver has been projected as high as a mid-first round selection to as low as a mid-second round selection. I believe he will be tabbed in the late-first or early-second, but I decided to put him on this list anyway because for one reason: you never know.
I think there's a very strong possibility that Sanu can be a solid No. 2 receiver, but I don't believe he'll ever be a No. 1, Pro Bowl-caliber receiver in the NFL, much like Garcon of the Colts.
Sanu doesn't have many flaws to his game, as he has a quality set of hands, along with good speed and height (6'2"). He did show that he could be sloppy during games when trying to catch the ball on long passes, but he does have the ability to go up and get the ball at it's highest point.
Sanu also rarely drops passes, which is certainly a good thing in the NFL. Roy Williams, anybody?
There are a few things that Sanu needs to work on before the 2012 draft starts, especially bulking up so he'd be able to block better. He also needs to learn to be more physical when it comes to battling cornerbacks for the ball on short to mid-range passes.
Sanu could be a decent player, but he'll never be a team's No. 1 receiver.
Career Stats: 799 carries, 4,049 rushing yards, 26 touchdowns; 79 receptions, 683 receiving yards, four touchdowns
NFL Comparison: Marshawn Lynch, Seattle
When I compare to Polk to Lynch, I mean the Seattle Lynch, not the Buffalo one. Lynch was chosen with the No. 12 overall selection by the Bills in 2007 and a rather average career during his time with the team.
Lynch had a coming-out party last season, as he rushed for a career-high 1,204 yards and a career-high 12 touchdowns while being selected to his second ever Pro Bowl.
I think Polk's game is very similar to that of Lynch's, which is a good thing. I believe Polk will eventually become a very good running back in the NFL and will be noted as the second-best back in this year's draft (only behind Richardson).
Like Lynch, Polk is able to dismiss want-to-be tacklers and rarely goes down after the first hit. He doesn't show a very fast "second-gear," but he has a good amount of burst and quickness through the initial level.
There are still some kinks in his game that he needs to work out, but I believe he'll do that and become a solid running back at the professional level.
He will likely need a season or two of sitting on the bench and learning from the veterans, but when he does earn a starting role, he will be good and have a few Pro Bowl-caliber seasons.
I really like Polk as a prospect in April's draft.
Career Stats: 177 total tackles, 18.5 sacks
NFL Comparison: Kamerion Wimbley, Oakland
Branch is yet another outside linebacker that could garner a first-round selection, joining a list that already consists of Alabama's Courtney Upshaw, Illinois' Whitney Mercilus, North Carolina's Zach Brown and USC's Nick Perry.
The former Clemson Tigers is one of the tallest linebackers in the draft, standing at 6'5". He will definitely be a force when rushing the quarterback.
Branch also has quality speed, usually registering in the 4.70 range in the 40-yard dash and has been clocked as high as 4.65.
He'll definitely be a decent linebacker in the NFL, but he will need to add some bulk if he wants to become an elite pass-rusher. And if he does in fact play outside linebacker at the professional level, he will also need to tweak his coverage techniques.
But I believe he'll be ready to start for an NFL team by the time the start of the 2012 season rolls around, and he will become a decent outside linebacker.
Career Stats: 87 total tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles
NFL Comparison: Casey Hampton, Pittsburgh
Did you really expect anyone else? Poe has often been compared to Hampton, the current nose tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Poe is considered to be a nose tackle, which only a select number of teams actually use, such as the Steelers, Dolphins, Vikings, etc. I can really see the Steelers reaching for him at No. 24, so they can have a quality replacement for Hampton, who has gotten up there in years.
They're going to have to find a replacement for him sooner or later, and they might as well do it this year, as you never know what could happen.
Poe is absolutely a brute force, as he stands 6'5" and weighs 350 pounds. He will definitely be a handful for opposing centers and guards. Multiple blockers will definitely have to occupy him, and surprisingly, he's quick off the line of scrimmage.
The former Tiger will definitely need to work on his conditioning if he wants to be able to contribute on all three downs. Poe will also need to work on his rushing attack, as he is not a pass-rusher.
Fortunately, Poe is very strong and will likely garner special attention from other teams. He's a big body in the middle that can fill up rushing lanes and bring down the ball-carrier, much like Hampton.
I look for Poe to have a solid NFL career.
Career Stats: 228 total tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, seven interceptions
NFL Comparison: Curtis Lofton, Atlanta
After playing sparingly through his first two seasons, Brown came out and had great junior and senior campaigns. In 2011, Brown filled up the stat-sheet, registering 105 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, three interceptions and three forced fumbles.
Considered to be one of the top outside linebacker prospects in the NFL Draft, Brown has been projected to go as high as the early 20s to as low as the early second-round. I believe he'll be chosen in the early second by a team such as St. Louis, Indianapolis or Tampa Bay, but we'll see what happens.
He's arguably one of the fastest linebackers in the draft, as he was clocked in with a 4.40 40-yard dash time.
The former Tar Heel will become a quality linebacker in the NFL. He may not be a consistent Pro Bowl nominee, but he'll be among consideration over the next few seasons.